Is the idea of a Congress-supported Third Front government fading with trends after six phases of polling in 349 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats indicating a downturn in the performances of smaller parties?
These parties include the Janata Dal (United) in Bihar, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh.
“The high voting percentage witnessed so far is indicative of the yearning amongst the electorate for a stable government and it is unlikely that the non-Congress, non-BJP parties will be able to retain the numbers it had in the 15th Lok Sabha,” political analyst CP Bhambhri said.
The BJP’s success at firming up pre-poll alliances with parties such as Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telegu Desam Party and the inability of non-Congress, non-BJP leaders to emerge as a united force appears to have dampened the Third Front idea. But leaders of such parties have not given up on forming the biggest bloc this time.
“The next government will be a Third Front one. The SP will win 40-45 seats and Mulayam Singh Yadav will very much be in the reckoning for the prime minister’s post,” senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.
The aspiration of each satrap to become prime minister is as big a problem with the Third Front concept as is the inherent contradictions between state parties that are fighting for the same political space. The SP and BSP cannot break bread together, just as the Left parties and Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu cannot be on the same page.
Claiming that the “manufactured wave” in favour of the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi would be busted, CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy said it would be possible for Third Front parties to find a workable mechanism of governance.
Third Front governments at the centre have failed to provide a stable government, but the standing and clout of regional political parties have not shown signs of diminishing. For instance, the vote share of the SP decreased marginally from 26.74% in 2004 to 23.25% in 2009 while that of Biju Janata Dal in Odisha increased from 30.02% in 2004 to 37.24% in 2009. The vote share of most regional parties including the BSP, JD (U) and the DMK remained stable during this period.
In contrast, the BJP’s vote share plummeted from 22.16% in 2004 to 18.80% in 2009. “The Third Front idea can be disliked but cannot be wished away. Regional parties have surfaced because of the failure of the national parties to address regional aspirations. The formation of the next government will not be possible without the support of the Third Front parties,” JD (U) leader KC Tyagi said.